tv Former President George W. Bush Discusses Portraits of Courage CSPAN April 8, 2017 8:45am-9:48am EDT
>> watch the 15th annual annapolis book festival live today at 10 a.m. eastern on c-span2's booktv. [applause] good evening everyone. my name is john heubusch. i have the honor of being the executive director of the ronald reagan presidential foundation and instituted, to thank you all for joining us this evening. in honor of our men and women who defend our freedom around the world in uniform, would you please stand and join me for the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag
of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. thank you. please be seated. well, now that we've said the pledge and saluted our flag, i'd like if all those who are with the armed forces here today, whether you be active or retired as well as their families, would you please stand so that we might show you our appreciation? [applause]
>> thank you so very much. on that note there are a few of the people that i'd like to recognize in the audience of this evening at like to start with our board of trustees. president bush a bachelor to the court of st. james the honorable bob tuttle and his wife, maria. ambassador. [applause] the extraordinary supporter over the year of the bush family of president bush, mr. brad friedman. [applause] one of our newer but remarkable trustees, mr. ben sutton. [applause] from the reagan family, michael and cameron. [applause] state assembly man.
[applause] just a few more. our former congressman and his wife, janice. [applause] all of our elected officials from the county of ventura and the city of simi valley. [applause] president bush's secretary of the treasury. [applause] and lastly retired u.s. army officer, gary and his wife. [applause] i would be remiss if i didn't mention that gary became paralyzed from the waist down
when a helicopter crashed while conducting operations in iraq in 2008, but thanks to the generosity of infinity or your foundation he can now walk through the assistance of an exoskeleton. [applause] if you would like to know what an exoskeleton is, gary will be at the reagan library tomorrow night for an event to share his story. we invite all of you to come back tomorrow at the same time for what i know will be a very inspirational event. thanks for coming, gary. [applause] now to begin our conversation with our special guest this evening is another of our foundations trustees, mr. fred ryan. fred has served -- i have a
better applause line the net. fred has served as a reagan foundations chairman for 22 years. prior to his chairmanship, fred served in the reagan white house in making the two-and 198 1989 d after that he served as president reagan's first post-white house chief of staff. i know of no other person who is spent more time and effort working on behalf of ronald and nancy reagan over the years than fred ryan. fred would never brag about that fact, but it is a fact so i will brag for him. ladies and gentlemen, if you would please join me in welcoming to the stage mr. fred ryan. [applause] >> thank you, john, for the very kind introduction. and welcome everyone. our special guest tonight has been to the reagan presidential library several times. the first was as the owner of
the major league baseball team. then as governor of texas, he was back as candidate for president of the united states. e is back as president of the united states to dedicate air force one here at the reagan library. he's been her as a former president of the united states, and as the author of the popular book, decision points. did i get back an accomplished painter, which we can only wonder what he will be on his next visit. as americans we close observe what a president to do when you leave the white house. after serving in the most powerful and demanding job on the planet, they certainly deserve to spend time doing things in their postpresidential years that they enjoy and want to do the most. some take on old new challenges and exciting adventures after leaving office. in fact, one of my favorite former presidents become a skydiving enthusiasts after he left office until his wife put a stop to it.
but like our special guest tonight, there have been a few artists among our former presidents including ulysses s s grant, dwight eisenhower, and jimmy carter. but to our knowledge no president has ever attempted portraiture. our 43rd president venture to bravely into that territory because he was so moved by the sacrifices of promoted american warriors and began the challenge of capturing and immortalizing their courage on campus. i look at president bush's collection of portraits and all. not only because of his talent and his skill, but because of the subject matter. and how we find a way to take their strength and their dignity and their perseverance and their patriotism and lit it up for all of us to see in a deep and intimate way. in these paintings we feel the essence of a warriors spirit, and hopefully this work is each of us a better understanding of the issues raising these heroic
veterans. so when this new book, "portraits of courage" president bush paints and tells the stories of more than 60 brave souls and ten the book he states his goal is quote, to honor our men and women in uniform, to highlight family members and caregivers who bear the burden of their sacrifice come to encourage those who may be struggling to get the help they need and help americans support our veterans and empower them to succeed. after reading the book there's no question that a president has achieved those noble goals. and in doing so i believe he has revealed a bit of himself as well. oscar wilde wrote every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist. it is rather the painter who on the colored canvas reveals himself. now it is my great honor to introduce a talented american artist who threw his paintings has further revealed the depth of his compassion and character, the 43rd president of the united states, george w. bush.
[cheers and applause] >> thank you, mr. president. thank you. >> thanks. sit down. thank you all. please. you are eating into airtime. [laughing] fred, thanks. thanks for your kind remarks. thanks so much for inviting me back. i also want to thank john, the trustees, michael, it's good to see you again. and my buddy brian who we'll talk a little about -- talk about a little bit. i painted him and asked his mother what she thought of of te painting, and i always thought he had a face on and mother could love.
[laughing] anyway, and she liked it, which is a huge relief. good to see again. anyway, ready to to roll. >> all right. as you can see we have a full house. we are streaming this online and on television, and a bit a number of questions submitted about the book, doctor paintings and a few other subjects and will try to get through as many of them is again. i just want to mention to those here and online that the book is now available, "portraits of courage," already a top seller on amazon or if you go to the bush center directly at bush center.org, the book is a viable straight from the source, and i saw a special deluxe edition that is personally signed by the president. all the proceeds i think people know this, but it's important to emphasize all the proceeds of the book what goes to the veterans cause at the bush center. [applause]
>> the first thing everyone wants to know is when did you start painting? >> well, i was an art agnostic for most of my life. terrible admission to make, i know. i get back from washington, and i wrote a book and then another book. i am trying to stay fit. i'm working a lot at the bush center there in dallas, but it wasn't enough. you've got to understand when you're the president you're going 100 miles pe 100 miles ped the next day it is zero. i had this kind of, and justice to get, keep moving an to learn something. and so i read winston churchill essay painting is a past that. a big admirer of churchill, a great leader. he took up painting. and this essay is worth reading, and i basically said what the hell, if this guy can paint i can paint.
[laughing] and so i told out to laura and she said yeah, sure. [laughing] and i hired an instructor, gail, she came over to the house and she said what's your objective? i said gail, there's a rembrandt trapped in this body. [laughing] and so she came back realizing i was serious and a painted a cube. then i painted a watermelon. [laughing] and it was a liberating experience. [laughing] not only was a liberating, it was an unbelievable learning experience, so i've been painting ever since for about five years. >> the first question we have is from tina, and she asks did you have a history of painting as a child earlier in your life? did your mom take any of your school painting on the refrigerator? >> i'm sure i was a finger painter. no.
tina, you know, it just wasn't, i just wasn't all that interested in art. now i am. so it goes to show you can teach an old dog new tricks. it's interesting when you get to be our age -- [laughing] seventy and you're sitting around with your pals, there's going to topics of the conversation jelly. what medicines are you taking? [laughing] and how are your grandkids? and my buddies say man, you've got a passion for painting. i say you ought to try. i can't paint, they say. it's funny, i said the same thing until five years ago. i am living proof to tell you that you don't know what you can do unless you try it. and so my call for aging baby boomers is leg it out, you know, run to the finish line. painting has enabled me to do
that. >> next question is what medicines are you taking and how are your grandchildren? [laughing] [applause] >> the grandkids are great. [laughing] very strong, fred. i didn't think you had it in you. [laughing] >> i'm trying my best, mr. president. a question from janet. she said you started painting farm animals and world leaders. when did you decide to paint wounded warriors? who was the first and why? >> thank you. actually what happened was my mother who can be quite plainspoken heard i was painting and she basically said you can't paint. [laughing] by the wake of this is a woman when i told her i was going to run against ann richards in 1993 said you can't win. [laughing] i said i damn sure can't paint.
[laughing] because she said paint my dogs as i became a pet portrait painter for a period of time. and i painted bob the cat and burning the cat, barney. and then one of the greatest things that any instructor can do is to set new horizons for a student. my instructor brought over this artist who said you ought to paint the portraits of world leaders. i'm sitting there kind of a fledgling artist and i said this guy inks i can actually do that? and i did it. and so i've got to instructors now, and one of them is at the house and said i understand you paint of these world leaders. he said you ought to paint the portraits of people nobody knows. and it dawned on me that it ought to paint these warriors who i do know. so what the bush center with
mountain bike rides and golf tournaments with these wounded vets. and, like brian, a biker. i got to know brian and then i started studying their stories. and the first i painted was major chris turner and of sitting there with him at a dinner and i said why are you here? visa because i can't get out of my mind seeing a buddy of mine killed. and i paint pictures, or photos, and as i'm painting turner, i'm thinking with that must be like in his mind. first one in there, and he then writes me a letter later and as result of stan f, much more talking about the invisible wounds of war. one of the real problems we face is there's a huge statement. brian will tell you. he's working with a lot of trips and they don't want to talk about it. they think people won't understand me or i won't get promoted, i'll never get hired.
so the keep it inside, which oftentimes leads to self medication to turner me a letter talking about has enabled me to start sharing my story more and more. which is step one to seeking help. so i repainted turned up in a fully paid to people in the book. i mean, i painted the same portrait again propose tried to show people how one can improve when you deal with a stigma and seek help if i was hoping to show people that i improve as a painter as well. >> the next question from isabella follows up on what you are saying. it is what is the process for painting one of the portraits? do they sit in the studio and you paint from photos or do they get to see and approve it? have you ever had someone who was an unhappy subject? >> yeah, my wife. [laughing] i painted lower one time. i thought it was a pretty good painting. [laughing] first it was too anguished and then it was to this event to that. finally i said forget it.
[laughing] i did paint my mother for her 90th birthday, and it was a painting of her walking her two dogs on the beach in kennebunkport maine. but in order to do with the angst that lower should become i painted mom from the back. [laughing] -- laura showed me, i do paint from photos. i've never come fill the person i painted live is me. so one of my instructors convinced me to paint myself looking in a mirror. it's pretty grim looking expression on the face because it's hard to paint and smile while you're looking in a mirror. [laughing] and so no, i never run it by, i didn't run it by the vets and i'm just hoping beyond all hope they like it. i was nervous about some of them. i wasn't worried about bryants because i think it's a good painting. there's a guy in the name todd, when you read the book, todd
wrote us a letter about what it was like to be in a war. when i was thinking god, he had told us he had night sweats. and i think about what its night -- what it's like to have night sweats. it's a pretty dark painting in a sense. and i saw todd at macdill in tampa two days ago and i said let me show you a painting. he said man, it's really good. i said todd, i'm no longer the commander-in-chief. [laughing] you can tell me the truth, and he liked it and it was a great relief for me. i think he liked it because i captured the anguish he felt but he doesn't feel it anymore. i wish i could repaint him but the book is out. [laughing] >> the question from meredith. she asks which of the wounded warrior portraits was the toughest one for you to paint? >> well, they are all tough in a way.
when you think about it, because every one of these men and women, some of them have very physical wounds of war and some of them, all of them have one way or the other pgs or traumatic brain injury. so think about that, that it was hard to do that on the other hand, i have such great pride in knowing, look, i'm a baby boomer which means vietnam war. remember what it was like when the was a draft and the war? a lot of people didn't understand and a huge angst. and when the vets came home they were treated despicably. so we get a tax on and it abundantly clear that we're going to defend the country, and millions volunteered, totally different attitude, and to be able to salute people who volunteered in the face of danger was a high honor. oftentimes i thought about the integrity and the courage of those who were willing to volunteer to wear the uniform.
so painting them, i had a lot of pride in painting them. and you know, i guess the toughest was the one with me and melissa stockwell dancing. melissa stockwell is a first lieutenant, first woman to loser like in combat. tigers athlete by the way. when's a bronze olympic in the triathlon and i'm sitting there and she said let's dance. i said no, i don't want to dance. [laughing] not a very good dancer. anyways, she convinced me to dance and soy painted melissa me. the easy part with her. the hard part was mea neat becae most of the painting i look like alfred e newman. [laughing] remember him? >> yesterday ran for president. >> what, me worry? >> mr. president, caroline from maryland asks where do you usually do your paintings?
who cleans up after you and how long does it take you to do a portrait from start to finish? >> a great question. i paint upstairs at her house. i built us to do there. i've got a student at the ranch and i've added one at kennebunkport. and so i've got places where i can retreat to. and i clean up. most of the time. [laughing] laura is a neat nick. oil painting is not neat. i limit my palate to two yellows, two reds, to blues and a white. you have a little nick on your finger and you happen to not get it totally clean and your lie down on a white bedspread, pay low blue.
[laughing] and so i try, i'm not a very good cleaner. this took me a year to paint the 90 portraits. a portrait, painting is really never done. i mean, i look at some of these portraits and say i wish i could put them back on the easel inky painting, but at some point you have to just call it quits. so i lived with his portraits for a year, some more complete than others. i would go upstairs and i would look at o'brien and say i think a better touch them up a little more. so it's a never ending process. so i can't answer that question. >> michael in greenwich asks, have you ever been unhappy with one of your paintings and tossed it aside? >> all of the time. a lot of times i will paint and then i would get in bed and think about it, hustle up stairs and scrape all off. that's the great thing about oil
painting, because you can paint, scrape, paint, scrape. i tried acrylics but it dried so fast there is no scraping. [laughing] .com all of the time. >> the good thing about oil is you keep painting over it until you get where you are comfortable. >> there was some questions beyond the painting and more of us to come back to bite a question from betty in washington d.c. she writes in a time that some would call uncertainty, what can you tell the younger generation of our country to do to renew the sense of belief and optimism in america that ronald reagan embodied? >> read history. there's been a lot of tough, i remember somebody telling me right after 9/11, you've had the toughest presidency. i said not even close. how about abraham lincoln when the country was at war with each other? or i just talked about a period of time that is so vivid in my mind still, 50 years later, and it was a tough.
what you've got to understand is that our nation goes through tough times, but her something unique about us. we've got a spirit they can't be extinguished, and that's why i am so optimistic about the future of the country. one reason i'm optimistic about this, millions while the uniform they got phd in life at a young age. and so back a subject, so the fundamental question is, can we help them transition? because their leaders of the future and that's what this whole project is about. helping people take the skills that they learn in the military and transition them to bring those skills into civilian life. there's a real challenge. there's a military civilian divide. a lot of it has to do with language. i can't apply for a job, vice president of human relations has what your skill set? sniper.
[laughing] i don't think we need one this year. [laughing] but if the person had said i'm disciplined, i work hard, i'm a team player, i believe in personal responsibility. i can take pressure. all of a sudden the civilian takes a different look. so one of the challenges we have as a society is understanding how the military thinks and the military understands how civilians think. a lot of work is being done on that, by the way. >> optimistic. >> kits of the got understand the history of the country, and you will see. there's a resiliency to us that should make people optimistic. my concern is that the rhetoric in politics and get so out of hand these days that good people say i do want to get involved in politics. but it's been that way. the use of coal and eight.
-- they used to call abraham lincoln and eight. that might've been some names called me at one time, i'm not sure. [laughing] >> café in chicago asks, all rights, we were so glad to see her dad make it to the super bowl for the con cost just days after leaving the hospital. [applause] -- coin toss. how was he doing and how is your mom? >> are both great, given their limitations. dad can't walk. is confined to a wheelchair and yet his spirit is joyful. i went to see dad for you to go i think it was in icu unit at methodist hospital in houston, and he was, if you haven't been to a icu, not real warm. anyway, and i said to dad, dad, my library is opening in three
months. and i sure what you do. and his voice is incredibly weak and he said, i'll be there, son. i let kind of tearful thinking man, probably not. and sure enough when we open up the library, the most important thing for me, it was nice to all of the former president and the weather was great, a lot of friends were there, dad was on the stage. flipping the coin reminded me of him being there for the library opening. this guy has got a huge desire to live. i've often thought about it, i wrote a book about him, fred, and i thought about it. 19 years old, floating in a raft worried about the japanese capturing him and, of course, killing him if they captured him. and mom is doing fine. she shrinking. [laughing] and as she does her voice gets louder. [laughing]
but she's, you know, she's a piece of work is what she is. [laughing] [applause] >> don't tell her i said it. >> mr. president, a question from the audience. why did you criticize president donald trump recently after not criticizing president obama for eight years? >> here's what happens. i'm asked the question, do i believe in free press? and the answer is absolutely i believe in free press, as should every other american belief in free press. because the press holds people to account. power is very addictive. and it's corrosive it to become central to your life. and, therefore, there needs to be an independent group of people who hold you to account.
and so i answered that question, of course the headlines were bush criticizes trump. so therefore i needed to say there should be a free and independent press but it ought to be accurate. [applause] i made the decision after my presidency not to criticize president obama, and i feel the same with about president donald trump and people say why? first of all, the office of the president is more important than the occupant, and i believe that undermines -- [applause] i believe that undermines the office of the presidency. secondly, i understand there's a lot of critics and i don't want to make the presidents job worse. no matter what the political party it is. it's a hard job. i think of a former president sat there second-guessing is
going to make it harder. and i want anybody who is president to succeed. we are all in this deal together, and so i understand sometimes my remarks can be construed as criticism. they are certainly not meant to be, and after i finish this book to her you probably won't hear from me for a while. i like privacy. the thing about the presidency is, you know, people say thank you for the sacrifice. it's not a sacrifice to serve the country you love. but you do sacrifice anonymity. i mean, you know, i can't walk down madison avenue in new york without drawing flies, you know? [laughing] maybe i ought to put that a little better. maybe without drawing -- [laughing] without drawing a lot of attention. you know, to the extent i can have privacy, i like it.
that's what art has done. give me a chance to not be like totally inside yourself, but i mentioned as learnin an experiet it's also very, you know, it's amazing how time moves, which a little scary when you are 70. >> the bush family has always been viewed as standing for civility in politics. our politics less civil today than in the past? when two things change and why? >> i don't think so. i think politics has always been a rough sport. there's always, again, if you read history there's a lot of cases where campaigns there was slander and people saying bad things about each other. i think what has changed, however, is how people get their news. so believe it or not i'm really the first blackberry or first female president.
it just, -- e-mail president. right at the end of bill clinton's time. the reason i make a point is technology has changed so dramatically and so quickly, as has the dispersal of news. so in the old days it was abc, nbc and cbs. and now it's, people get news and information from all over the place. and part of the issue with this, these new dispersal agent is that you can be anonymous. there's no responsibility, no accountability whatsoever. which lends itself to some pretty angry messages going out. the danger of course as i mentioned earlier is the good people say i don't want to get involved, and that's a huge problem because a system really is only as good as well and is a good to be involved with it.
>> a question from michael in buffalo. ronald reagan has a famous line of asking, are we better off than we were four years ago? is the world a more dangerous place than it was four years ago? >> the world is a dangerous place, and again, this may be taken as criticism of one of my successors, and i don't really mean it to be. there is a lesson, however, when the united states decides not to take the lead and withdraw. vacuums can be created when u.s. presence recedes, and that vacuum is generally filled with people who don't share the same ideology, the same sense of human rights and human dignity and freedom that we do. you know, there's an isolationist tendency in our country and i would argue that dangerous to our national security, and doesn't be fit the character of the country.
>> you mentioned -- [applause] >> you talk about social media. i looked on twitter for the account of at george w. bush and is described as locked. do you tweet and do you recommend it to others? >> at a loaded question. [laughing] no, i don't tweet and you know, if there is a twitter account and my name, someone else's writing it out of the bush center. this is an interesting question. we did good things of the bush center but the only way i make news is if i criticize my successor or criticize my party. so the fundamental question is how can you get good news out so that people, for example, who are supporting our center, they can find out about it? these like twitter and instagram and these things are useful ways
for us to communicate with a group of people that are interested in what we are doing. i guess we do. i don't. i do deal facetime with my -- [laughing] that's high tech, isn't it? cutting-edge. with my grandkids pick it's like watching a home movie every da. it's awesome. [laughing] by the way, they are doing well. [laughing] >> and those medicines that you are taking? >> too many to count, too many to count. >> what advice would you give those who lead our country today and we talked a bit about what you don't want to do but what advice might you give to those who are thinking of running in the future? >> my advisor starts with know what you don't know. and find people who do know what you don't know and listen to them.
my advice is that the job is different once you get in. it looks one way and then you get in the oval office and you know, it looks different, trust me. and my advice though it is you're thinking about it, go for it. unless of course your whole life is one of the weather you win or lose. then don't go for it. you know, my dad never won the state of texas until 1988. so he loses in 64. he loses in 70. 70. he loses to ronald reagan in 1980. and because, at a think, we are not very good at psychobabble, but i think because his priorities was faith and his family and his friends, that
loss while at stone was tolerable. and then he wins in 1988 and becomes president. it's hard to believe. you can't win euro posted three times and he ends up being president, which i think speaks volumes about the questions just asked, which is just take a risk but make sure you get the right foundation on which to take risk. >> more questions about paintings if we could do. what you painted in the white house if he knew you had these are skills? >> you know, there's no do overs. i mean, you know, would you ever taken down the sign mission accomplished on the uss abraham lincoln? hack, i would have. [laughing] it's a good question. i doubt it. i mean, like, you know, it is all-consuming job. you think about the presidency
and the problems you dealing with and issue you're dealing with all the time. what's startling is when you are not president, because mankind can adjust to the environments in which they live, pretty adaptable, and the next day, like in crawford, if you have to go get the coffee yourself, you wake up and realize you no longer have that sense of responsibility. and it's pretty startling. it's pretty startling. i guess my answer to question is the reason you have a sense of responsibility is because the job is all-consuming. >> do you see the world carefully now through the eyes of an artist? >> i do. i was on ellen degeneres show today, who by the way, is a very fine person. i looked in her eyes and i was
saying, i can mix that color. [laughing] >> i see colors in shadows that are never did before. i see the sky tivoli. so yeah, i do. i do. you know, i don't know if it's me being more sensitive, more centered, all the stuff but it do know this. it has changed my life to the better. >> does laura paint with you or separately. >> no. [laughing] nor does she play golf. [laughing] >> she's not a painter. she is a positive critic. [laughing] she is helping, laura has a really good eye and loves art, and she's made some very meaningful and positive suggestions.
and some not so positive suggestions. [laughing] by she takes a great interest in the art fair and with this exhibit come all this pennies are going to be displayed at the bush center starting today. a huge crowd by the way i heard. and so laura went over to make sure that the colors on the walls worked well with the paintings and she's taking a huge, big interest in the project. like my mom, she's my biggest fan. they are unbelievably positive. i guess to encourage me to keep doing it. >> you once said if you aim for big change you shouldn't expect to be boarded by short-term history. do you feel that history has misjudged you or has been fair to you? >> i don't think it is judged me get probably because i think it's impossible to judge a president in the short-term. i think there there has to be the reach of time, to be able to analyze the decisions a
president makes and its consequences over time. and so i wrote decision points, and thank you for pointing it out, because i wanted people to lease have an understanding of why i made the decisions i made, regardless of whether or not you agree with them. at least you want to try to learn why. and i also wrote it and i put in the introduction it would be a data point for future historians. so if they are generally sincere about trying to find out my place in history, then they ought to read this book. not as the data point but as a data point. so we have this library down to very much like the reagan library. it's full of all kinds of archives, and some of the stuff hasn't been declassified yet but it will be. they will come in research. in order to write a subjective history more presidents have to
follow me. so it enables one to see perspectives. so i'm not really that worried about it. i gave it my all and that's all you can do. [applause] >> what will people be surprised to learn about you since you left the oval office? >> that i am a painter. [laughing] when i wrote the book, the first one, and i was to be able to say a lot of people are going to be shocked about this book. they didn't think i could read, less much right. [laughing] and so, and so i think they will be surprised at that. you know, i'm not sure what else. i think they're surprised i'm not out there talking all the time about my successor. i should have given you this
answer, when president obama was president i used to get a lot of calls from heartland saying you need to speak out. now i'm getting calls from the coach saying you need to speak out. [laughing] >> this next question is back to your paintings. it's human nature to be private about wounds and scars. how did you get the subjects of your paintings to open up and reveal an aspect of themselves that many of us might choose to hide? >> that's a great question. under trust is the first thing. and i think i was able to earn their trust in several ways. one, i told our and their families that as president i would support him 100%. and i think they saw that. secondly, when you're writing mountain bikes with people, there's a lot of camaraderie, a lot of needling, but it's a way
to earn somebody's trust pick we set it so that our veterans can speak, and we encouraged them to be open. some were more open than others but when you're sitting there as if it, i suspect another pal gets up and talks about an invisible world, it gives you confidence to speak or so. here's what's important to understand. the challenge for society is to get a better and to get rid of the stigma -- a bet. the best people to do that our vets. someone comes out of combat and goes into a doctor's office and says i've got a problem and the doctor really doesn't understand how to speak to that person. ..
which makes up these counseling groups, red, white and blue, team rubicon, groups that work. the cohen centers, and why you, these are places that have proven they are able to help these vets. that is what we are doing. anyway, they talk about it, some more than others. i sit next to turner. a little nervous sitting next to the former of commander-in-chief. why are you here, turner? he opens up. it was part of the healing process. i don't know why turner told me what he told me but as a result,
turner is here himself, part of the peer-to-peer counseling network. >> talking about groups that serve veterans, your website mentions 80% of the organizations raise less than $100,000 a year. what can we do to help? >> guest: first question, do the 80% who raise $100,000 a year do good work? therefore, it is confident, and opportunity to take a look at the characteristics rather than giving money to an organization. the amazing thing is the response to our vets this time compared to vietnam is overwhelming. 30,000 ngos set up, an extraordinary number, the real challenge is what worked or what doesn't work. we don't want to be the jury but we want to highlight programs
that we know are effective. team rubicon is an example, takes bets and put them into where a hurricane is his or an earthquake has hit and they hope locals recover. the peer-to-peer counseling group, dealing with the same issues serving somebody else which by the way is part of team effort. in the book, there are a number of people who are recovering nicely, they are working to help somebody's life improved. >> you mentioned there is a lot of talk about the 1%, you point to the 1% being the warriors who defend the remaining 99% of americans. talk about the 1%. the warriors. >> guest: i am on a government
engine. [laughter] >> host: what can the government -- >> guest: that is my medicare premium. [laughter] >> can the government do better for veterans? >> >> step one is to make sure that the va is responsible but the best way for it to work, to do joint ventures, is effective. [applause] >> the new head of the va, the former head of the va's very receptive to that idea. and they want our input.
they have been in combat. they come home and are raising their families and got a job and they retire and they are going something is wrong and they check into the va with symptoms of pts. all of a sudden vietnam vets, there are a lot of them, heading to the va. veterans are really important. as many people can get help as quickly as possible without frustrating our vets. frustrating a vet that is come out of combat, if he doesn't get help immediately there is a threat of self-medication and there is a lot of that. the challenge is to prevent that from happening as best we can. quit drinking in 86. [inaudible conversations]
>> who is the subject of your next portrait and why? >> guest: interesting question. me. a lot of pangs of past masters and they paint themselves a lot. kind of an arrogant lot. one reason is if we foul it up it doesn't hurt anybody. hands giant portraits -- fabulous painter. and and great paintings, paint a huge portrait. it is me. my face, on 6-foot campus, is a
lot of face. i am working on that, takes a long time. it turns out each part of your faith becomes a portrait unto itself. you can spend four or five days because it is so big so i am doing that right now. a fascinating experience and i painted freddie. to the spca in dallas, a great friend of ours is donating money to this. i wanted to see it. we get in there and there is a dog foster mother holding this tiny puppy and this tells the story that this dog had been abandoned in a construction site with brothers and sisters, the others had been adopted and had the whole freddie thing, name is freddie, because he wasn't
eating very well. love picked up the dog. it was over. so my aid is named freddie ford and he was in line of sight and i said okay. the dog is named freddie. i don't know if it was an honor or not. the guy is awesome, by the way. we did dna. to find out, like, how on pure freddie is. so he has one whole life that says mixed breed. another line says ciao these on staffordshire terrier which is a pit pool and border collie. awesome little guy, by the way. >> host: have you ever thought
of being an art inspector? >> guest: no. & art pupil. every brushstroke is a learning experience and that is why it is important to have people around to understand that and are willing to help you reach out, continue to press, and not much expression, and angela merkel, there was no, there was no commonness and not a lot of pain on it. they have a lot of paint on it and big brushstrokes and an evolving style and my instructors help me gain the confidence necessary to paint that way. >> host: this one is anonymous. would you be available to do a portrait of our family for their christmas card?
>> guest: no. i wouldn't. here is the problem. people say will you paint something for charity? paint what? you spend the rest of your life painting for charity. i am not going to do that, thanks, nor will i ever sell one. this collection here, 98 paintings, giving it to the bush foundation endowment fund, it may be worth something 30 years from now. if they run out of money they sell it. i make a g clay. it is a fancy word for a sophisticated copy of each painting. i promise only to make one copy or portrait. and i will send it to each that. [applause]
>> host: questions about portraits. all who seek to do portraits have to be the toughest. you can miss paint a landscape or still life and who is going to complain? if you decide to capture the image of another human on canvas, you better get it right. any of your subjects complain? >> guest: i painted jenna's baby once and she complained. i thought it was nice, she didn't like it. i painted another one and finally painted something that looked like the gerber baby. >> host: the specifics of portraiture, and not just artistic skill but a character. a special report developed
between artist and subject. >> guest: great question. you have to have feeling, a feeling about who you are painting. i paint with great respect. and and people go to their event. they form in the bonds, and i saw four vets on the today show, i saw five others. i thought two today at ellen and stay in touch with them. some send pictures in.
they are my friends. >> host: you talk about the paintings. what inspired you to make a book out of a painting? >> guest: it is risky to put your paintings out there. some may not like them. i wanted to raise money for the foundation and to tell the stories. when you read them you will be moved and there are stories of courage, injury, recovery, willingness to help others and i wanted to highlight the invisible war. that is my biggest concern. i am writing soundbites of people who lost their leg, some went back into combat on one leg. the first portrait in there,
they lose their legs and have been in combat twice and the prosthetics are great. the invisible ones concerned me. this is a way to highlight that and hopefully it will inspire people to come forward and talk about it caregivers to rethink the care they are giving. if it is not working, it is to call people to a very important cause. i have a platform, not as big as the old one but i intend to use it to help our vets for the rest of my life and this is one way to do so. [applause] >> host: we have just about run out of time but i would like to thank you for doing this book. i can't say how inspirational it
is to read this book and a gift it is to give to people in the military and military families and i urge everybody to pick up a copy. amazon, or go -- >> guest: a full-time job by the way. >> host: thank you, mister president. [applause] >> host: an opportunity to have a book signed by the president and the painter and the author, a wonderful thing. get that if you can. thank you all for coming. [applause]
>> ladies and gentlemen, we ask you hold for a few moments and let our distinguished guests depart and you will be going out that door. those joining us for dinner there is a door in the same corner you will be able to go out. if you are not joining us for dinner you are welcome to depart this direction right now and find your car but give us a moment. we hope you are joining us tomorrow night for our evening with gary layingfort. it should be a fascinating event. thank you for coming. [inaudible conversations]